MAKING IT BETTER: Raising Mental Health Awareness


This month in the UK there are different campaigns taking place around Mental Health. I thought it would be opportune to replicate the same here. So I will be trying to raise as much awareness on this important issue as I can. I encourage you to send in any questions you might want answered or if there are any specific aspects of mental health issues you would like explored.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

When you hear or read about mental health, are you still gripped with fear, revulsion, confusion, denial or is it possible you just don’t understand what it’s all about? Many people fall into the latter category and generally speaking what people aren’t sure about or don’t understand they tend to treat with suspicion. Add to that cultural beliefs and you have distrust, fear and rejection.

There are some who will forever choose to hold on to those harmful cultural beliefs that retard growth and there’s not much you can do about it. There are also those with strong religious beliefs that also choose to see everything in very simplistic ways and respond with a standard mantra that everything is in God’s hand. I am an Ordained Minister so I absolutely believe in the divine, and I have seen what is possible. I am also a qualified mental health clinician so, comparable to a medical clinician, a lawyer, a scientist or any other professional; there are factual things I am very clear about in my discipline.

It’s not rocket science to come to the conclusion that something is going awry with our mental health in Nigeria. It is a phenomenon that is affecting humanity globally. Its impact on its people is felt according to each individually society, community. Many of the absolutely gory stories you read daily about behaviour that is tantamount to inhumane, leaves me with feelings of dread and incomprehension. The only way to make sense of it is in the knowledge that a healthy mind could not carry out such behaviour.

While a lot of the sensational stories we read about are the extreme behaviours of possibly broken minds, the more subtle mental health problems tend to go under the radar, undetected, festering and ultimately resulting in deep human pain. The result are stories like the one my colleague Reuben Abati wrote about regarding the woman who was arrested for trying to commit suicide ( a brilliant piece!). There have been more recent stories of suicide or attempted suicide, and people behaving in ways that can only be detrimental to their well being.

There are a lot of misconceptions, myths, untruths about mental health that encourage people’s fears and lack of understanding about it.

Here are a few facts The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cited on mental health:

Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems

Mental disorders and substance abuse are the leading cause of disability worldwide

  • About 800,000 people commit suicide every year
  • War and disasters have a large impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being
  • Mental disorders are important risk factors for other diseases, as well as unintentional and intentional injury e.g. HIV, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. These conditions also put people at risk of mental health problem
  • Stigma and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental health care
  • Globally there is huge inequity in the distribution of skilled human resources for mental health

These are conversations we all have to be committed to engage in. We cannot be afraid to talk about how we are feeling. We must be prepared and courageous and be willing to challenge stereotypes. We need to be full of humility and gratitude because we don’t know what we may be faced with ourselves at any time.

Even more importantly we must be vigilant in developing as much insight as we can about our own individual mental health. This will help you to be able to identify if and when something isn’t right.


You are worth finding,

Worth knowing, worth loving

You’re so hard on yourself. Take a moment. Sit back

Marvel at your life: at the grief that softened you, at the heartache that widened you, at the suffering that strengthened you. Despite everything, you still grow. Be proud of this

What you tell yourself each day will

Either lift you up or tear you down


Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31


What we achieve inwardly will change our outer reality – Plutarch

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start – Nido Qubein


May your week be filled with joy, peace, happiness. May you learn something new and positive about how to improve your mental health.

Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister. She can be reached at

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4 Responses to MAKING IT BETTER: Raising Mental Health Awareness

  1. Oluwatosino May 8, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Waoh… Nice and educative article. Good health is wealth. It can’t be compared to anything. When we are mentally alright,both physically, spiritually emotional…. Then we have hope for a brighter tomorrow. But the moment… But the moment our mental wellbeing is not stable, depression creeps in and we loose hope for tomorrow.

  2. Olakunle Olajide May 9, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    There is no time i read your column, that i don’t get motivated. Yes i am proud to be growing. But really, what really causes this depression to be so evident? Is it debt, emotions born out of jealousy, health issues, family? I just can’t get it really.

  3. Gloria Ogunbadejo May 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Olakunle thank you for your kind words and question. People can become depressed for many reasons some of which you have mentioned. There is a difference between being sad or feeling down and suffering fro depression. When the feeling of sadness becomes chronic and negatively impacts the person’s quality of life, then it becomes a mental health issue. Anyone can become depressed, it is not a curse or the person’s fault. Everyone has a different capacity to cope with prolonged problems.

  4. Olakunle Olajide May 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Now i get it ma. It is normal to feel sad but don’t let it impact one’s life negatively. Building that capacity to be able to cope with the problems as well. Thank you for your kind response ma.


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